The Best of Survival Fiction

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Hey, even survivalists have to unwind every once in a while. Take a look at some of these fictional stories of survival, hand-picked by us for your entertainment pleasure from movies, TV and books. What’s your favourite fictional survivalist story?

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog.com

#1: The Road (2006)

1_the_roadThe Road was first published in 2006 by author Cormac McCarthy, also known for writing the books behind No Country for Old Men, Child of God and All the Pretty Horses. The Road was released to great critical acclaim, winning several book awards including the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for literature. It follows the story of a father and son making their way to safety in a post-apocalyptic nightmare world.  The story was adapted to film in 2009, starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee, and without revealing too much we’ll say that you’ll be in for a great ride..

#2: The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719)

1_the-life-and-adventures-of-robinson-crusoeThe original Robinson Crusoe comes from the novel “The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe, published way back in the 1700’s. You can find the full text of the novel (thanks to expired copyright and literary classics) available for download at Project Gutenberg by clicking here. The book tells the tale of Crusoe, a man who spends a record-breaking twenty seven years stranded on an island. Oh, and the original was published under the pseudonym of Robinson Crusoe, making people believe he was entirely real, at least for a little while.

It’s been adapted to film numerous times, including Robinson Crusoe (1997), starring Pierce Brosnan in the title role, and The Wild Life (2016), an animated spin on the tale.

#3: Survivor Type (Stephen King)

1_survivor_typeStephen King seems to love exploring survival and post-apocalyptic scenarios in his work: There’s The Stand (1978), which was turned into a pretty cool 1994 TV miniseries, The Mist (1980), which was turned into a 2007 horror flick, Cell (2006), which became a 2016 movie by the same name and Under the Dome (2009), which was also not surprisingly turned into a TV series which ran from 2013 to 2015. But a lot of people forget about a little story called Survivor Type, which was first published in a 1982 book called Terrors – though later released with Stephen King’s short story collection Skeleton Crew in 1985. The short story follows the diary of Richard Pine, a man who gets stranded on an island while trying to traffic a shipment of heroin on a cruise ship.

It’s a thrill ride like only King can write it, and the story was even adapted to short films: In 2011, 2012 and 2013.

#4: The Hunger Games (2008)

The first book in the Hunger Games series first appeared by author Suzanne Collins in 2008.  Subsequent sequels included Catching Fire in 2009 and Mockingjay in 2010. The series follows young characters Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark as they make their way through a terrifying survival game-show setup straight from your worst dystopian nightmares. The trilogy also gave rise to a series of movies of the same name. It’s got all the elements of a highly successful series that makes you fall in love with the characters immediately, and if you were a fan of movies like The Running Man then you’ll surely enjoy this too.

#5: I Am Legend (1954)

I Am Legend was originally published in 1954 by Richard Matheson, and stands as one of modern fiction’s true classics: This is one of many cases on the list where you might want to read the book before you take the leap and see the movie. The story follows Dr Robert Neville and his canine companion after the breakout of a disastrous virus that “turned” most of humanity (yes, this is one of the original post-apocalyptic zombie stories).

It was adapted into a movie starring Will Smith in 2007, though some parts are radically different from the book version. For comic book nuts, there was also a graphic novel adaptation of the story.

#6: Earth’s Children (1980)

1_earth's_childrenWant to learn more about historically accurate (yet surprisingly fictionalized) survivalism? Then you should jump straight into the work of Jean M. Auel, starting with the Earth’s Children series – with six books in all. Earth’s Children is set in pre-historic times, and the finer points of Auel’s work are notorious for being exceptionally finely researched. Start off with the first book in the series, The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980) and work your way through until The Land of Painted Caves (2011). It’s worth it.

#7: The Martian (2011)

Give survivalism a completely different (and terrifying) modern spin: Put a man in space, where nobody can hear him scream. That’s the premise of the debut novel by author Andy Weir, which was first self-published in 2011 (before later being snapped up by a larger publishing house). The story follows botanist Mark Watney’s attempt to create a self-sustaining colony on Mars – something which already a possibility in reality.

It was turned into a movie starring Matt Damon in 2015.

#8: Cast Away (2000)

1_cast-awayCast Away was released in 2000 starring Tom Hanks, and is a film classic. One can almost go as far as to call it a modernized version of Robinson Crusoe. The movie follows Chuck Noland, a Fed-Ex employee, who finds himself stranded on an island after his plane takes a nosedive. Yes, this is a bit of a tear-jerker, but that also isn’t always a bad thing, is it? One of the most famous elements of Cast Away was Wilson (If you haven’t seen the movie, that’s a beach ball who, well, becomes Chuck’s eventual friend in an attempt to make island life less lonely).

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In 2015, Tom Hanks was reunited with the original Wilson during a NY Rangers game.

Oh, and then Family Guy – horrifyingly – did this and ruined the moment.

Watch the original trailer for Cast Away on YouTube, here.

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5 Survival Reality Show Screw Ups

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accident_truck_fear_factorReality TV shows generally tend to go two ways: Either they turn out to be partial or complete fakeries behind the scenes, or in some cases things veer a little too close to reality and people get hurt – in 2011, a contestant was involved in a massive crash on the set of Fear Factor, and that’s not the only case by far.

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Here are some of the worst survivalist reality show screw ups yet…

1. Kid Nation

kid_nationKid Nation first aired in 2007 as a reality show by CBS, and it goes down in history as one of the worst ideas for a reality tv show ever to make it to the airwaves. The premise of the show was simple: Forty kids were placed in a reconstruction old Western town and, well, told to run it by themselves with absolutely no adult intervention. This involved all of the tasks you’d expect from keeping a town going, from milking the cows, making the food, doing the dishes and establishing some form of government. Please note that these were kids, with ages ranging between eight and fifteen.

The show was subject to serious controversy right from the beginning, and it didn’t take long before things got completely out of hand: It became a power struggle almost immediately into the show, and saw older kids heavily abusing their power. (Doesn’t that remind you of a little something called the Stanford Prison Experiment?)

There’s even someone on Reddit who says they were one of the show’s contestants.

2. Koh-Lanta

koh-lantaKoh-Lanta is better known as the French version of the popular reality show Survivor. You can check out the intro for Koh-Lanta on YouTube over here. Back in 2013, while filming a new series, contestant Gerald Babin (aged 25) suddenly got sick during the first task in Cambodia – a game of tug-of-war between teams – and then, well, died from cardiac arrest.

The season of Koh-Lanta was cancelled immediately, and it raised a lot of questions about the safety of contestants on reality shows. French authorities immediately launched an investigation into Babin’s death to see whether or not it could be ruled manslaughter.

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That, however, is not the end of the story: The show’s on set doctor (Thierry Costa) committed suicide shortly after the event, feeling – according to his suicide note – that the media attention arising from the event had brought irreparable damage to his name.

(Interestingly, this is one of two cases where a contestant has died on international versions of Survivor, and is not by any means the only occasion where contestants in any version of Survivor have been hurt enough to be removed from the game.)

3. Bear Grylls’ The Island

bear_gryllsBear Grylls is a well-known name: He’s had several of his own TV shows, written several books on his version of the art of survivalism, has the Bear Grylls Survival Academy and generally has no idea what he’s doing. (Yes, he has been forced to apologize for faking it on reality TV, and we wouldn’t trust his advice – period.) This particular mishap happened during Season 3 of The Island with Bear Grylls, a show where regular people are made to participate in survival set-ups. (That already sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?) Patrick Dauncey (then aged 19) fell off a cliff during filming – a spectacular thirty foot drop. You can see the video from The Guardian.

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Needless to say, he was airlifted to hospital – seriously injured, but it could have been worse. He can now be found on Twitter, for some reason.

That would have been the end of the story, at least until The Island with Bear Grylls got in trouble again – this time, a crocodile was stabbed to death. In another case, contestant Mike Tindall had to be…well, airlifted due to serious injury. Again. Really nice, Grylls.

Oh, and applications are open.

4. Steve Irwin

steve_irwinIt’s been more than a decade since his death, but most people still remember Steve Irwin as The Crocodile Hunter: He’s either seen as a man with a unique touch for interacting with wildlife, or someone who shouldn’t have gotten that close to wild animals in the first place. Whatever your opinion, he remains, at least, notable. While filming his tv show The Crocodile Hunter in September 2006, Irwin got a little too close to a stingray: A move which resulted in his death. It was widely publicised, and we’d be lying if we said it didn’t raise more questions about what should and shouldn’t be part of reality television.

His family continues his legacy in education and conservation. You can find the official website for The Crocodile Hunter here.

5. The Jump

jump_reality_showThe Jump is a Channel 4 (British) reality show that takes various celebrities and puts them against each other to compete in winter games-themed tasks. This sounds like a great idea until you realize just how dangerous the premise of this show could be. For example, here’s an article on The Huffington Post about how many celebrities have had to be removed from the game due to injuries…so far.

Just some of the injuries courtesy of The Jump include Beth Twiddle’s neck injury, Ola Jordan’s potentially permanent leg injury and Heather Mills’ injured thumb and leg. Surprisingly, the show made it as far as a 2017 season, with contestant Spencer Matthews taking home a prize we’re not sure should have been up for offer in the first place.

What’s the worst reality TV show injury you’ve heard of so far? How about the craziest reality show overall? Link us to it in the comments: We love getting in touch with readers!

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Survival Books for Your Bunker

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survival_book_bunker_cat_books_in_caseBe honest, you probably own somewhere between a handful and a shelf-full of various survival and prepping oriented books. And you have the intention of reading them, but know that you probably won’t unless you absolutely must. My personal survival oriented book collection occupies about eleven linear feet of shelf space. While the books address many topics, they fit into about a half dozen specific genres. There are the military survival manuals, the medical and first aid tomes, those pages that address wilderness lore and primitive skills, general prepping, hunting, tracking, gardening, game preparation, food storage, a few odd tangents, and plenty of survival stories. So how to take my library on the run?

By Doc Montana, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

survival_book_bunker_waterproof_caseFirst, the bunker. I chose the Pelican Storm Case iM2400 waterproof polycarbonate container. If the end of the world is more of a whimper, then this case is overkill. But if it’s more of the bang I suspect it will be, then this Pelican is just the bird for the Storm. The size is about the same as a small suitcase, and was chosen to provide some focus to the bunker, but not to limit this to a Top Ten List. Additionally, weight and size need to play a role in your decision making. If I Bug In, I have all my books, magazines, manuals, and pretty much everything else in my prepping world. But if I have head to my BOL (Bug Out Location) then I need a single, durable, waterproof package that just might contain my entire Library of Alexandria.

Importance of Purpose of Bug Out Books

survival_book_bunker_tracking_navigation_trackingLike many with a survivalist/prepper bend, I tend to accumulate books about all aspects of survival from pet first aid, to boobytraps, to gardening within a square foot, to firearm repair. But as my library increased in weight, I decided what I really needed is a Bug Out Bag Of Books or BOBOB. Or another name I use is my Survival Book Bunker or SBB. In other words, a consolidation of reading material chosen specifically for when one must take the survival literature show on the road. Bug Out Books are not about Bug Out Bags (that ship has sailed), but instead the necessary skills that might be needed in the future to survive and thrive post Bug Out.

Read Also: Prepping Advice From Books

Lately, however, I have admitted to myself that I won’t be reading many of these books cover to cover but rather just referring to them or studying their table of contents so I know the gist of the book. And instead of putting the books back on the shelf, I have decided to build a portable bunker for them when when I have to throw the Survival Book Bunker (SBB) in the back of the Bug Out Vehicle (BOV) when I head to my Bug Out Location (BOL) with my Bug Out Bag (BOB).

The books I’ve selected are not in stone. They are just the best representatives of the different categories or genres of books that I think will be mission critical in a true Bug Out situation.

Current Book Categories

 survival_book_bunker_military_survival_army_sas1. Advanced strategic survival techniques: These books are the military survival books that address situations across all terrains, weather, and adversaries. They often lean towards the escape/evasion/short and long term survival from a non-apocalyptical point of view. But no matter the perspective, they are the broad-spectrum information antibiotic for survival. If you don’t have these books, you might not need the rest of the books in the bunker.

2. First Aid and Emergency Care: This category of books should need no introduction. But what it does need is a variation of complexity. For some who might use this Book Bunker, basic first aid might be a new skill. Others however, might be advanced and need guidance in surgical techniques for removing bullets and suturing wounds and cauterizing arteries. And not just for humans. Animal care might be part of your kit. I know Pet Vetting is part of mine.

3. Primitive skills and Woodlore: Books in this pile are geared towards self-reliance and off-grid life. They include topics about solid shelters, cooking, toolmaking, and pretty much anything else you might need for long-term life in the woods. There are plenty of sub-genres in this category including hunting and gathering, long-term food storage, long-term shelter building, tanning hides, making cordage, and literally basket weaving. On a side note, my particular copy of “Wilderness Living and Survival Skills” is autographed and signed by both authors. I’m not sure it will improve my chances, but everytime I see the signatures I will know I am not alone in the survival world.

survival_book_bunker_woodlore_wisdom_game_processing4. Gardening and Food Preservation: Maybe 50 or 100 years ago, a basic understanding that everyone would have is how to preserve game, salt meat, and can fruit. Not that those skills are difficult, but rather just elusive in today’s technofied world. But luckily they can be regained rather quickly with a few minutes of reading, and a few hours of doing. Gardening? Well that is another matter entirely. Gardening, like marksmanship, is a skill gained through practice and experience that is also perishable. But when it comes to food production, the stakes are a little higher to getting it right the first time.

5. X-Factor books: There is room for a few in my Survival Book Bunker for a couple tomes about boobytraps, parameter security, and a few other unmentionable topics that might provide a level of security and survival advantage beyond the suggestions in mainstream literature. And I’ll just leave it at that for now.

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A few topics are missing from my Book Bunker. I might add them later, but for now I will leave them as just concerns on the horizon. 

Farming and Ranching: Frankly, I would find it more likely that I would stumble across a library of books on animal husbandry than I would find a herd of cattle in need of an owner.

Blacksmithing: A couple of hundred years ago i would have worried about making my own ironworks including blades. But today I am going to reserve my Book Bunker  space for dead-on needs over imagined scarcity. In fact, for blacksmithing I would need much more gear in my BOB than just a book on how to forge metal like a hammer, anvil, bellows, and shop.

Drug chemistry: While it would be nice to grab a handful of whatever is around and formulate some broad-spectrum antibiotics, in reality the chance of cooking up some perfect drugs for your needs is pretty slim. In the end, I will leave my chemistry needs to medicinal plant guides and chicken soup for colds.

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hugh_glass_illustrationSurvival Stories etc.: There is an entire shelf of books that no longer have immediate relevance because, as I noted above, “That Ship Has Sailed!” These books including general preparing, how to Bug Out, what to consider with your Bug Out Vehicle, where you should put your Bug Out Location, and what you should cache in your BOL. Also of lesser consequence are lists of supplies, and the endless pile of survival stories (although there is still plenty of successful data mining to do if you have the time).

In the end, if you toss in a Bible of your persuasion and a copy of the US Constitution into your Survival Book Bunker you should be good to go. Think I missed something? Add your suggestions in the comments.